OPM has told agencies to report by October 13 on their need for “special rate” pay, a process in which agencies can recommend whether to provide that higher pay for recruitment and retention purposes in certain occupations and locations; continue–and potentially increase–the differential where it is already being paid; or reduce or discontinue it.

If an agency makes no recommendation–the most common outcome of these annual reviews–the differential continues unchanged and those employees will receive the GS across the board pay raise component in January. In its memo to agencies, OPM noted the White House’s budgetary proposal for 1.9 percent and the prospect for a pay order by the end of August. That would set a raise by default if Congress remains silent, as it has so far, about a raise.

That order typically also addresses how much of the total raise would be paid across the board and how much of it would be carved out as locality pay.

About 40,000 employees get special rate pay, which ranges from several percent above the base GS rate for the grade and step of a position to much more.